Line 5 Pipeline Shut Down … for How Long?

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe that the Line 5 pipeline is a ridiculous threat to Michigan’s economy & environment, am quite pleased with it being shut down, and strongly hope that it is shut down for good. Sorry if that makes you sad or upsets you. šŸ˜‰

Ed White of the Associated Press writes that a judge shut down Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 energy pipeline that travels under the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday after Enbridge reported problems with a support piece far below the surface:

Enbridge Inc. has not provided enough information to Michigan officials to show that continued operation of the west leg of the Line 5 twin pipeline is safe, Ingham County Judge James Jamo said.

Without the temporary order, ā€œthe risk of harm to the Great Lakes and various communities and businesses that rely on the Great Lakes would be not only substantial but also in some respects irreparable,ā€ the judge said.

…Enbridgeā€™s Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A four-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment divides into two pipes that lie on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge last week said an anchor support on the east leg of the pipeline had shifted. The company said Line 5 itself was not ruptured and that no oil spilled into the water, but it still hasnā€™t explained how the incident occurred.

The east leg was shut down. But Enbridge said it resumed the flow through the west line Saturday after consulting with federal regulators at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The judge said heā€™ll hold a hearing Tuesday on the stateā€™s request for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, could keep Line 5 closed indefinitely.

ā€œWith the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michiganā€™s most important natural resource continues to grow every day,ā€ Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Read on for lots more. Nessel is not kidding about the potential damage to Michigan’s water from the company that devastated the Kalamazoo River back in 2010 with the largest oil spill in Michigan history. A University of Michigan researcher modeled Line 5 spill scenarios and found that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and on their islands are potentially vulnerable to an oil release in the Straits.

You can also dig into Enbridge’s take on their pipeline that carries Canadian oil through Michigan mainly to Sarnia, Ontario & the case against the LIne 5 at For Love of Water.

Mark took this photo three years ago of the Mighty Mac looking north from the Lower Peninsula across the Straits. See lots more in his Mackinac, Michigan album on Flickr.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Ice on the Straits of Mackinac

Ice in St Ignace

Last week inĀ St. Ignace, photo by Thomas Nighswander

Doesn’t look like we’ll get an ice bridge for snowmobiles to Mackinac Island this winter.

Click to view the photo bigger and follow him on Facebook and at National Photography Workshops.

More ice onĀ Michigan in Pictures.

Below the Mighty Mac

Under the Mighty Mac

Mighty Mack, photo by vinnywalsh.com

Last week I shared how you can get driven across theĀ Mackinac Bridge. Guessing you’re on your own if you want to cross the Straits of Mackinac at this level!

Vinny took this photo on Christmas Eve of 2005. If you want to check in with the current scene, the Mackinac Bridge Authority webcamsĀ have you covered with three different views.

Check his photo out bigger and see more atĀ vinnywalsh.com.

Much more Mackinac Bridge onĀ Michigan in Pictures.

Way above the Mighty Mac

Mackinac Bridge from Above

The Mackinac Bridge, photo by FotoLense

Well while we’re up in the air (see yesterday) why not stay there?

View this photo background bigtacular and see more including some more aerials from the area in FotoLense’s Mackinac Island July 2013 slideshow.

There’s some great facts about the Mackinac Bridge if you click the photo and a ton more on the Mighty Mac from Michigan in Pictures!

Bad Ideas in Action

I need to provide a retraction of sorts for this post.Ā While Enbridge Line 5 could carry the same corrosive tar sands of Keystone XL, it’s not a part of the XL network. It still most certainly could all theĀ terrible impacts and remains a really bad idea. Ā More about Line 5 right here.

enbridge-pipeline-under-straits-of-mackinac

Broken Supports on the Straits Pipeline, photo courtesy National Wildlife Federation video

Here’s what we’re talking about when we talk about piping crude oil sludge under the Straits of Mackinac. It’s absolutely unfathomable to me how a politician could ever use “jobs” and “Keystone XL” in the same sentence except to say “Keystone XL could cost usĀ tens or hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Great Lakes if anything goes wrong.”

Eco Watch writes (in part):

This past July, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) conducted a diving expedition to obtain footage of aging oil pipelines strung across one of the most sensitive locations in the Great Lakes, and possibly the world: the Straits of Mackinac. Footage of these pipelines has never been released to the public until now.

The Straits of Mackinac pipelines, owned by Enbridge Energy, are 60-years-old and considered one of the greatest threats to the Great Lakes because of their age, location and the hazardous products they transportā€”including tar sands derived oil.

Click above to read more and watch the video or click here to watch it on YouTube. The dive footage starts at about 3 minutes, and at about 4 minutes in you can see drop camera footage from 200′ deep that shows unsupportedĀ pipeline hanging over the lake bed.

I know that some folks get upset when I wander into “politics” but I don’t even think this falls under politics. This falls under “companies using lobbying money & influence to do things that are really dangerous without proper safety controls.” You can clearly see from the video that this pipeline is an outdated and unsafe piece of junk, and the Great Lakes don’t belong to any company. In my opinion (which may be different from yours) it is incumbent on our elected officials to safeguardĀ the Great Lakes for the economic benefit and enjoyment of usĀ ALL.

PS: If the name Enbridge Energy sounds familiar, they’re the company that brought Michigan the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010.

PPS: (edit) The Jobs, Economy and the Great Lakes report by Michigan Sea Grant found that in 2009, more than 1.5 million Great Lakes-related jobs generated $62 billion in wages for the Great Lakes region. (report is linked at the right)

Bridge to the North

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Dan Moran

If you want to call this the world’s most beautiful bridge, you’ll get no argument from me.

View Dan’s photo background bigtacular and settle into his slideshow for a couple more amazing shots from Michigan. Then –Ā because everyone needs a vacation every so often – keep watching forĀ some jaw-dropping pics from Alaska. Seriously: wow, wow, WOW.

There’s lots more winter wallpaper and lots more of theĀ Mackinac Bridge onĀ Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT: Frozen Straits

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Mark Miller

OK, we’re not throwing back too far for this Thursday, but I wanted to share a really cool view that Mark took this February of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac locked in the grip of the Polar Vortex.

View hisĀ photo bigger and see more great views of Michigan from above in his Aerials slideshow. You can also see one of hisĀ aerial photos of the Straits from last August on Michigan in Pictures.

There’s moreĀ aerials and more Mackinac Bridge onĀ Michigan in Pictures!

The Making of the Mackinac Bridge

Bridge_HDR2.jpg

Bridge HDR 2, photo by Allison Hopersberger

A calm night on the Straits of Mackinac, and Michigan’s signature bridge was looking fine!

I’ve posted a ton about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge here on Michigan in Pictures, but had never seen this excellent summary of how it came to be courtesy the Michigan Dept. of Transportation’s page on I-75 and the Straits of Mackinac:

The five-mile stretch of water separating Michigan’s two peninsulas, the result of glacial action some twelve thousand years ago, has long served as a major barrier to the movement of people and goods. The three railroads that reached the Straits of Mackinac in the early 1880s, the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway from the south, and the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette from the north, jointly established the Mackinac Transportation Company in 1881 to operate a railroad car ferry service across the straits. The railroads and their shipping lines developed Mackinac Island into a major vacation destination in the 1880s.

Improved highways along the eastern shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula brought increased automobile traffic to the straits region starting in the 1910s. The state of Michigan initiated an automobile ferry service between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City in 1923 and eventually operated eight ferry boats. In peak travel periods, particularly during deer season, five mile backups and delays of four hours or longer became common at the state docks at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.

With increased public pressure to break this bottleneck, the Michigan legislature established a Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority in 1934, with the power to issue bonds for bridge construction. The bridge authority supported a proposal first developed in 1921 by Charles Evan Fowler, the bridge engineer who had previously promoted a Detroit-Windsor bridge. Fowler’s plans called for an island-hopping route from the city of Cheboygan to Bois Blanc, Round, and Mackinac islands, thence to St. Ignace, along a twenty-four-mile route. The Public Works Administration flatly rejected a request for loans and grants to implement this project.

A plan was then drawn up for a direct crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace, but they were again denied funds. In 1940, a plan was submitted for a suspension bridge with a main span of 4600 feet. This design was a larger version of the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State, a structure destroyed by high winds on November 7, 1940. Although the disaster delayed any further action, the activities of 1938-1940 nevertheless produced some important results. The bridge authority conducted a series of soundings and borings across the straits and built a causeway extending out 4200 feet from the St. Ignace shore. The Second World War ended any additional work, and the Legislature abolished the bridge authority in 1947.

William Stewart Woodfill, president of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, almost singlehandedly resuscitated the dream of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac. Woodfill formed the statewide Mackinac Bridge Citizens Committee in 1949 to lobby for a new bridge authority, which the legislature created in 1950. A panel of three prominent engineers conducted a feasibility study and made recommendations to the bridge authority on the location, structure, and design of the bridge.

The State Highway Department, which had just placed a $4.5 million ferryboat, Vacationland, into service at the straits in January 1952, remained hostile to the bridge plan. In April 1952, the Michigan legislature authorized the bridge authority to issue bonds for the project, choose an engineer, and proceed with construction. The authority selected David B. Steinman as the chief engineer in January 1953 and tried unsuccessfully to sell the bridge bonds in April 1953, but by the end of the year, the authority had sold the $99.8 million in revenue bonds needed to begin construction.

View Allison’s photo bigger and see LOTS more in her Mackinac Island slideshow!

Sunset over the Straits of Mackinac

Straits of Mackinac

Straits of Mackinac, photo by GLASman1

A gorgeous view of a beautiful bridge. Definitely check it out bigger and see more in Mark’s slideshow.

Much more about the Mackinac Bridge onĀ Michigan in Pictures!

Swimming the Straits of Mackinac

Mackinac Dusk

Mackinac Dusk, photo by ShelNf

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Cathy Nagler will be attempting to swim across the Straits of Mackinac tomorrow (Wednesday, July 24):

Worry isnā€™t a word Nagler uses to talk about the upcoming distance swim, which is expected to take place Wednesday between Michiganā€™s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, on the west side of the mighty Mackinac Bridge. But she does have legitimate concerns, chiefly hypothermia from the cold water.

ā€œThatā€™s the hard one,ā€ she said. ā€œI went in Lake Michigan on June 12 and the water temperature was 58 degrees.ā€

Nagler will wear a lightweight wetsuit, of the sort tri-athletes wear, to combat that problem. Combined with dive boots, it should keep her warm enough.

ā€œThe heavier wetsuits, like water skiers wear, make me too buoyant in the water,ā€ she said.

Nagler, who summered at her familyā€™s cabin in Northport as a child, has been a life-long swimmer. She has several distance swims to her credit, both in the United States and England. But her goal to swim across Lake Michigan has the most meaning for her.

You can read on for more and also check out Nagler’s crosslakemi.org where she discusses the preparation for the swim.

I thought I would try and figure out how many people have swum the 4.1 mile distance across the Straits of Mackinac, but it appears that the answer is “a lot.” This feature in the St. Ignace News about a group of 5 who swam the Straits in 2011 has some great information about swimming the Straits, and notes that theĀ Coast Guard receives about 10 special marine requests specifically for swimming the Straits.

View ShelNf’s photo bigger and see more from the Straits in their slideshow.